Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Game Yetu, SportOn & Kenyan sports publications...shall they manage?

In the last 3 months two of the biggest media houses in Kenya have plunged into the deep end of matters sports by launching stand-alone sports publication. Game Yetu and SportOn are the titles of these sports publications. Each of these will see 2 copies per week with Game Yetu published on Tuesdays and Saturdays while SportOn will be available on Mondays and Fridays.
Sporton, Game Yetu on a reader's table

It's interesting that despite being one of Africa's and indeed world powerhouse in sport, it took publishing houses that long to develop authentic sports publications. And even these have not quite met the threshhold of authenticity and originality since over 75 percent of the content is from online sources and European/foreign leagues. It is good to know what Manchester United is doing to lure Victor Wanyama but wouldn't it be better to understand which club in Kenya made his move to Europe possible?

Bloggers v/s Journalists - who rules the world? 
Still on content, what would have hurt for the editors to consult a few bloggers or online contributors to write in their columns or provide alternative content linking it with their blogs? (not that we're canvassing for ourselves but that how one of the biggest online sports magazine Bleacher Report has gained traction and become an authority in sports). By engaging a popular radio personality who happens to follow a certain English team is only populist and bound to fail in the long run. It would have been better to get an authority in the game and maybe have some kind of face-off with such a personality before every weekend's action ( something like BBC Lawro's Predictions...)
Again, while the larger population in the country is still not online, the numbers for publications and newspapers doing well of the shelves and the streets is quickly diminishing ( in fact were it not for elections in Kenya in March, the numbers don't look pretty at all). A 'quick non-scientific' sample from our Twitter handle showed that majority of Kenyans are yet to purchase either of the two sports publications. It also begs the question how sustainable the publications will be. Assuming it's a 28-pager, 7-14 pages would need to be filled by advertisers - how many companies are willing to go that way? The pricing also might be a handicap since not many Kenyans are willing to part with 30/= even if it's twice a week only.
Each of the publications also have online links which are not updated as regularly. In fact as we write this, the SportOn link has not been opening for one reason or the other ....hosting challenges maybe?

Though many will laud these publications, their sustainability and lack of local authenticity will make them projects in futility. It is good for sports in Kenya to receive a shot in the arm but this might need some serious re-evaluation and branding to identify with the larger masses that the papers are hoping to achieve.

Laduma - image courtesy of www.soccerladuma.co.za
These publications remind me of MwanaSpoti from Tanzania and Laduma from South Africa. The latter is the 3rd largest selling newspaper in South Africa with daily sales in excess of 300,000 copies. Laduma means 'it's in!' or 'he scores!' in the Zulu language. The paper also has a website and mobi link to appeal to a wider online and mobile audience, besides being very active on social media platforms - Facebook and Twitter . It has defied all publishing logic in the country which has seen depressed numbers for newspapers and other publications in the last 5 years as Internet seems to be killing the hard copies!